Easy Paint Effect Techniques for Home DIY Projects.
DIY projects aren’t just about saving money or getting unique décor for your home. They can be fun and very satisfying too.
I’ve put together a list of easy painting techniques that can be used on a multitude of projects. In this case, I have chosen a simple light switch surround, but try applying these techniques to furniture, home accessories, plant pots – whatever takes your fancy!
For these tutorials , I used a plain light switch surround.(or fingerplate), but all these techniques will work with a flat surface. The patina technique will also work non-flat or carved surfaces.
Easy Paint Effect Techniques – #1 – Acrylic Pour Painting
This technique has become incredibly popular, with many video tutorials available to follow. I’ll guide you through what I did to create this one. If you want more guidance, I’d recommend searching for acrylic pour painting techniques on YouTube. Or maybe I shouldn’t,, because you might get sucked into a rabbit hole of videos for a while. It’s kind of mesmerising to watch.
And of course, it’s great fun! Why not get kids involved by giving them a light switch surround to create a masterpiece with for their own room? They’ll love seeing their creation in use every day, and it’s an incredibly easy thing to do.
Things you will need:
- A flat surface with some plastic or a few sheets of newspaper to keep everything clean.
- Some small cups. Egg cups or small glasses will work fine a you can wash them afterwards.
- Acrylic Paints – I used 5 colours (Mint, Pale Grey, Teal, Blue and Gold)
- Floetrol, Acrylic Pour Medium, or any other Acrylic medium or glaze. I am using floetrol here.
- Stirrers (I use coffee stirrers)
- Protective gloves to keep your hands clean
- Optional – SIlicon liquid.
- Optional – Hairdryer, heat gun or straw
- Clear coat – spray or brushable.
1 – Sand your light switch surround to roughen the surface. This will help the paint to stick to the surface. I use 120 grit sandpaper. Clean it carefully after wards with turps, methylated spirits or isopropyl alcohol.
2 – Paint your light switch surround with one of the colours you will be using in you pour, and let it dry fully.
3 – Mix up your paints. I used a bit of a mix of paints so my ratios varied. If you are using cheap student acrylics, you will need a higher ratio of paint to floetrol. The thicker the paint, the more floetrol you will need. I it is rally thick paint, you may need to add a little water too. I used approximately 1 part paint to 3 parts floetrol by volume.
I then mixed it well. I was looking for a consistency of warmed, runny honey. Add a little water bit by bit if you need to get it a bit runnier. As you can see, i don’t need much paint for a small project like this.
If you would like to generate cells in your pour painting, you can add a drop of silicon into some or all of the colours.
4 – Pour your paint into a separate cup. I poured half of each colour into the cup, then id another round to finish up the paint. I then dragged a coffee stirrer into and across it once to stir once.
Below, you can see my cup of paint ready to go.
5 – Place your project piece onto something to elevate it and allow excess paint to drip away. I just used a plastic yoghurt pot.
6 – This is the fun part! Pour your paint onto your the light switch surround. You can use a circular motion to create texture, just pour it straight or do zig zags. This is where you get to have fun and experiment. The photo below right is how mine looked once I had finished pouring.
7 – Now pick it up and tilt it to let the paint flow over all the edges. Keep moving it around. You don’t wan too much paint on it. In the photo below right, you can see there is rather a lot of paint on the plate, so I let a lot of it drip off. I should have mixed up less paint.
8 – You can use a hairdryer, heat gun or blow through a straw to move the paint around. It will also help push off any excess paint if it’s looking a bit too thick. Thick paint is not ideal as it can crack when it dries.
You can also try using isopropyl alcohol or a blow torch to create cells after you have poured the paint.
Blowtorch – move a blowtorch flame over the surface quicky to pop any air bubbles. This can help create cells.
Isopropyl alcohol – spray it on using a toothbrush dipped in ISP. Run a fingernail over the bristles to flick a few small droplets it onto the paint.
9 – Once you are happy with it. leave it to fully dry, then spray or brush at least 2-3 coats of the clearcoat of your choice over the top to seal and protect your project. Here is how mine turned out. It’s looks pretty good for such a quick and easy DIY.
Easy Paint Effect Techniques – #2 – Patina or Rust using Metal Powder.
This has got to be one of the most satisfying things to do. It is absolutely addictive, and though you will need to buy some metal powder (easily available in small quantities on eBay), the solutions used for developing the patina are household items that you may already have.
For this project, i used Bronze Powder to create vibrant teal patina. For other colours, please look out for my next blog, which will be all about creating metal patinas using DIY metal paint.
For this project I used:
- Bronze Powder
- Paint Brush
- Household Ammonia
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Salt (I used a mix of course and fine)
- Masking Tape
- Acrylic Paint medium or PVA glue – any will do, but I used Polyvine Satin Decorators varnish.
- Dust Mask.
- Protective latex, nitrile or pvc gloves.
- Paper towels
- Old paint brush (optional)
- Spray clear coat.
1 – Sand your light switch surround to rough it up a little. This will create a rougher surface that the paint can stick to. I use 120 grit sandpaper. Clean it carefully after wards with turps, methylated spirits or isopropyl alcohol.
2 – Mask the inside of the light switch surround. This is so your light switch will fit nice and flat against the inside border of the surround.
3 – Make a paint from the iron powder an acrylic medium. I make a slightly thick sort of sludge. Approximately 1-part glaze to 2-parts powder by weight. I then painted it onto the fingerplate quite thickly It doesn’t matter if it’s not even, so you can stipple it a bit. Any lumps and bumps will help add texture to your final patina.
4 – Immediately after painting, before the paint is dry, sprinkle a coating of your chosen metal powder over the paint, and leave it to fully dry. Make sure you use a dust mask. You do not want to be breathing in metal powder.
5 – Once the paint is dry, remove the masking, tip off any excess powder, then lightly brush off any remaining powder that has not stuck
6 – Prepare an ammonia chamber. I use a large plastic crate with a lid, and some plastic mesh with cups glued underneath to keep the project above the wet ammonia.
You can use a plastic storage container. Just make sure it has a lid – you will find out why soon.
Place your plate into the chamber, raising it up slightly off the bottom with a couple of small plastic cups or small blocks of wood.
7 – The next part you will want to do in a very well ventilated, open space as ammonia is VERY strong smelling. Use the gloves to protect your hands too.
First, pour a little ammonia into the bottom of your ammonia chamber and place the lid on it – it keeps in the ammonia gas which, believe me, you want to do.
8 – Take the plate and coat it with red wine vinegar. You can use a brush to do this, or just pour a little on and smear it around using a paper towel. Then sprinkle a little salt over it. Less is more. The salt really helps develop texture. See photo below on the left.
9 – Leave the chamber sealed for at least on hour. I left this for a few hours, checking very so often until I felt it was enough. Above right shows it after I washed it, and below is a close up. Just look at all that lovely texture!
If you are not satisfied with the result at this stage, you can lightly sand it back to remove some patina, or repeat step 8 for more corrosion. Bear in mind that once the piece is dry, the colour will probably change again.
10 – Remove from the chamber and wash it off with water (above right) Then leave it to fully dry.
11 – Coat with 2 -3 coats of your favourite clear coat. This will prevent further corrosion, and help protect the paint.
And here is my final result. Please make sure that you use a plastic light switch with a fingerplate with a metal powder on it, unless you can earth the surround as well as the light switch.
Easy Paint Effect Techniques – #3 – Alcohol Inks
OK – I have a confession. I had never tried painting with alcohol inks before this experiment. I’ve used them plenty of times for pigmenting transparent mouldings, but painting with them is a hole and – I must say – delightful process.
You will need:
- Alcohol Inks – at least 3 colours
- Isopropyl alcohol
- White Spray Paint
- A straw or tube to blow air through
- Spray clearcoat
- Vinyl. latex or PVC gloves.
- small cup and eyedropper OR small squeezy bottle.
1 – Sand your light switch surround to rough it up a little. This will help the paint to stick to the surface. I use 120 grit sandpaper. Clean it carefully after wards with turps, methylated spirits or isopropyl alcohol.
2 – Spray paint the plate white and let it fully dry.
3 – Mix up some blending solution in a small cup or squeezy bottle.. Mix 1 oz of isopropyl alcohol with 3 drops of glycerine.
Spread this on the fingerplate with a brush so it is completely covered.
4 – Now take your alcohols inks in the colours of your choice, and place drips or trails of it around the fingerplate.
5 – Take your straw and blow the ink around, making sure you cover the edges. You can also and drops of blending solution and / or lightly spray or splatter a few drops of isopropyl alcohol onto the inks to get some interesting patterns. When you are satisfied with it, let it dry completely.
6 – Seal your light switch surround with 3 coats of clear spray lacquer.
Et voila! This is such a quick technique, and you don’t have to be particularly artistic to get interesting results.. Just encourage the inks to work their magic by blowing them around! Another great project to try with kids.
Easy Paint Effect Techniques – #4 – Spray Paint and Water
This is a trick I learned when painting props for film. It’s a really easy way to create an organic looking, time-worn texture with spray paint. Great for an eroded enamel or faux rust finish
You will need:
- Spray Paints of your colour choice. I used a black as my base, a dark red as my main colour, and Design Master glossy wood tone to age it a bit at the end.
- Spray bottle of water.
- Lint free fibre cloth (eg old t-shirt)
Safety first – please use appropriate PPE when using spray paints, and work in a well ventilated area.
1 – Lightly sand your piece to key it, then clean and dry the surface, then spray a regular coat of your base colour. This is the colour that will be mostly covered up. I used black here. Let it fully dry.
2 – Now, take your water sprayer and spray some droplets of water onto the piece. I adjust the spray nozzle so it a range of droplet sizes as shown below.
3 – Next, take your “main” spray paint colour, and lightly coat your project. Then lightly wipe away the water. You will see that the water acts as a mask, and you will be left with a nice organic texture.
4 – Repeat step 3 if you want to deepen your main colour.
5 – This step is optional, and depends on the final look you are trying to achieve.. I like to do this as it gives a nice aged feel. Design Master glossy wood tone is a transparent, warm brown spray paint
You can see below that spray paint is “reactivated” by the solvent in the coat above, which can mean you wipe away a bit more than you meant to. This, to me, just adds to the look..
And that’s pretty much how you do it! I sprayed another full coat (without water drops) of design master over the top as I wanted a darker look over-all. This was my final result.
Easy Paint Effect Techniques – #5 – Water Based Paint and Isopropyl Alcohol.
This technique is great for getting things to look like minerals, stone etc. When spraying Isopropyl alcohol, please make sure you work in a well ventilated area and use appropriate breathing and eye protection.
You will need:
- 2 or 3 contrasting water based paint colours. Make each into a wash by adding water. You want them to be thinner than single cream, but not as runny as water.
- spray bottle or stiff brush (tooth brush or nail brush)
- Isopropyl Alcohol
- Water based paint for your base colour.
1 – Start of by lightly sanding you surface with 120 grit sandpaper. This will help the paint stick. Clean it well, then dry it off.
2 – Paint a coat of your base colour, In this case, I used a light grey chalk paint. Allow it to dry. This layer doesn’t have to be perfect. I stippled it before leaving it to dry, to create a texture.
3 – Now it’s time to start layering the washed. I took a dark grey wash and stippled it over the whole plate.
4 – Immediately after stippling the wash on, take your spray bottle of IPA and lightly spray from a distance so that you get a few large drops landing on the plate. If you don’t have a spray bottle, dip the brush in IPA and flick some IPA onto the plate.
You will immediately see the IPA repel the water based wash, creating a really interesting effect.
5 – Let the wash dry completely, then repeat with a contrasting wash, and treat with IPA as per step 4.
6 – Repeat again if necessary. I did 3 different washes, letting them all dry in-between. Don’ do too many washes or it will just get muddy looking.
Bear in mind that a wash will not be opaque when it dries., so the colour will probbaly fade a little. THis is good, You want the colours behind to peek through, creating a lovely, organic, layered colour texture.
My last layer was a brown wash. This is what it looked like.
7 – Finally, after everything is dry, seal it well with a clear sealer. Here is what it looked like after I was done.
This is one of the methods I’d use to paint stone effects on polystyrene “stone” props.
So there you have it. 5 easy paint effects techniques for your DIY projects. I hope this has been useful. Do comment below, or join the Chic Mouldings Facebook group to show off your work, and let me know how these tutorials go for you.